Relics are physical objects that have a direct association with the saints or with Our Lord. They are usually broken down into three classes. First class relics are the body or fragments of the body of a saint, such as pieces of bone or flesh. Second class relics are something that a saint personally owned, such as a shirt or book (or fragments of those items). Third class relics are those items that a saint touched or that have been touched to a first, second, or another third class relic of a saint.
Scripture teaches that God acts through relics, especially in terms of healing. In fact, when surveying what Scripture has to say about sacred relics, one is left with the idea that healing is what relics “do.”
When the corpse of a man was touched to the bones of the prophet Elisha the man came back to life and rose to his feet (2 Kings 13:20-21).
A woman was healed of her hemorrhage simply by touching the hem of Jesus’ cloak (Matthew 9:20-22).
The signs and wonders worked by the Apostles were so great that people would line the streets with the sick so that when Peter walked by at least his shadow might ‘touch’ them (Acts 5:12-15).
When handkerchiefs or aprons that had been touched to Paul were applied to the sick, the people were healed and evil spirits were driven out of them (Acts 19:11-12).
In each of these instances God has brought about a healing using a material object. The vehicle for the healing was the touching of that object. It is very important to note, however, that the cause of the healing is God; the relics are a means through which He acts. In other words, relics are not magic. They do not contain a power that is their own; a power separate from God. Any good that comes about through a relic is God’s doing. But the fact that God chooses to use the relics of saints to work healing and miracles tells us that He wants to draw our attention to the saints as “models and intercessors” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 828).
TREASURES OF THE CHURCH RELICS EXPOSITION in the San Francisco Bay Area
Treasures of the Church is a ministry of evangelization of the Catholic Church. Run by Fr. Carlos Martins of the Companions of the Cross, its purpose is to give people an experience of the living God through an encounter with the relics of his saints in the form of an exposition. Each exposition begins with a multi-media presentation on the Church’s use of relics that is scriptural, catechetical, and devotional, leading to a renewal of the Catholic faith for many people. After the teaching those in attendance have an opportunity to venerate the relics of some of their favorite saints. An exposition involves some 150 relics, including those of St. Maria Goretti, St. Therese of Lisieux (the “Little Flower”), St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Faustina Kowalska. The supreme highlight is one of the largest relics of the Church’s claim to the True Cross in the world and a piece of the Veil that, according to sanctioned tradition, is believed to have belonged to Our Lady.
Here is a partial listing of places where the exposition is taking place:
Saturday October 26 at 6:15 pm (immediately following the 5:00 pm Mass)
St. Thomas More Church
One Thomas More Way
San Francisco, California 94132
Friday November 1 at 7:00 pm
Sacred Heart Church
13716 Saratoga Ave
Saratoga, Califonia 95070
Tuesday November 5 at 7:00 pm
St. Edward Church
5788 Thornton Avenue
Newark, California 94560
Wednesday November 6 at 7:00 pm
St. Philip Neri Church
3108 Van Buren St.
Alameda , CA 94501
For other schedules, check out the Treasures of the Church website.